King County to get money for evacuees
Seattle Times staff reporter
More than 1,000 Katrina evacuees now living in motels, shelters or with relatives around the area will be moved into longer-term housing in King County in the next two months under a relocation plan approved by state housing officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
About $5.5 million of an estimated $7.8 million in federal money that has been earmarked for the state will go to King County to house at least 300 families for up to a year, the state Department of Community Trade & Economic Development (CTED) is to announce next week.
The Red Cross has been helping many of the evacuees stay in motels for up to two months, but the state wants to move them into private apartments or public-housing units before they become homeless.
Western Washington will get a large share of the money since most of the families who registered with FEMA for housing and other assistance want to settle in the Seattle area, said Annie Conant, a spokeswoman for CTED, a state department that is overseeing the FEMA aid.
"This [funding] will make a tremendous difference," said Conant. "There are families that need to get their lives back in order. They need a stable housing situation. They need an address."
The federal funds will cover rent deposits and rent and utilities for up to a year.
CTED has designated the housing authorities in Seattle, Renton and King County to find apartments for Katrina evacuees in the Seattle area.
It's a new mission for the housing authorities, whose focus has been helping the area's poorest local families find public housing. The news that those agencies now will relocate Katrina evacuees worries many needy local families who say they fear they won't have priority on waiting lists for public housing.
In recent days, housing administrators have sent newsletters and e-mails to local families and individuals now on waitlists that the FEMA program won't affect their waits for public housing. Housing-authority administrators have said that is because rent subsidies for Katrina families will come from a separate federal funding source, and most evacuees will be placed in private apartments.
In recent weeks, the state has instructed Seattle and King County housing authority administrators to start screening and to even move some Katrina families into apartments on the assumption that the authorities will be reimbursed later by FEMA, local housing and CTED administrators said.
Seattle will receive about $2.8 million to house 150 families, including some families of as many as eight, city and state officials said.
"We have the housing to accommodate them," said Andrew Lofton, deputy executive director of the Seattle Housing Authority.
Other counties that requested funding and probably will get approval within two weeks are Snohomish, Pierce, Skagit, Okanogan, Franklin, Spokane, Whatcom, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason and Walla Walla, CTED administrators said.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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